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Have you ever thought of a business idea but never worked toward it?
If so, you’re not alone. 92% of people living in the United States of America have done the same thing.
If you’re looking for the spark to lift you up and get your idea moving, Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried might be what you need.
To learn more about making your business idea a success, check out these key takeaways from the book.
David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried’s Perspectives
Before going headfirst into the content of Rework, we need to consider where the authors come from and why they’re qualified to tell us about business success.
David Heinemeier Hansson is a Danish programmer. He created the web development framework entitled Ruby on Rails and made the Instiki wiki.
Hansson recently became a partner at Basecamp, a web-based software development firm.
Jason Fried is the founder of 37Signals, a web-based software development company. He is also the CEO of Basecamp.
Both individuals have extensive knowledge in the world of entrepreneurship. They’ve dealt with the topic in their work and written about it multiple times.
Given their personal experience in the field, both authors are well-renowned for their expertise. They’re best known for their motto: “It’s simple until you make it complicated.”
Critics have revered their novel, Rework, for its straightforward approach to business success. Because of their strict yet helpful approach, entrepreneurs everywhere are learning more about business.
StoryShot #1: Ignore the Real World
If you’ve ever tried to start a business, you know how noisy things can get. You hear this advice from the best people in your industry, and you feel you have to follow it to be successful.
The noise gets even louder when you announce that your business is going live.
In Rework, we learn that we need to shut out this noise. We don’t need to follow what other people know. They don’t get to create the rules for what works and what doesn’t.
They’ve made their mistakes as they launched their business. Their mistakes and solutions are not our mistakes and solutions. Our experiences are different.
When we do make a mistake, we’re going to learn what went wrong. We may not know the correct answer, but we’ll find out for ourselves in time.
On the other hand, our successes will teach us new things while giving us an idea of what to do next. With this in mind, we can understand that failure is not necessarily a precursor to success.
We are going to learn from our experiences, not someone else’s. We can listen to all the podcasts we want and follow all the best people in the business yet still get nowhere.
When it comes down to it, all you know is your experience. That’s what you have to learn from and grow from.
Stop relying on other people to tell you about your business. It’s your business. It’s up to you to figure out for yourself.
StoryShot #2: Focus on the Here and Now
Entrepreneurs find themselves worrying about the past or focusing on the future. Either extreme is not the way to grow your business.
You have to focus on what’s happening right now if you want to make it.
If you allow past problems to take over your life, you’ll let those problems drive your company’s future. You won’t be able to improvise when new issues arise, and you’ll repeatedly find yourself stuck in the same old rut.
Past solutions don’t work for future problems.
In the future, your business will be different. If you’re using the same old solutions, it’s not likely to pan out well.
As you’re trying to find solutions in the present, you shouldn’t work more than about a week in advance. If you do, you may be tackling too much at once. Working in smaller increments will make your outcomes more manageable.
It would help if you didn’t refer to every solution as a plan. It’s more likely that you’re making strategic guesses that may or may not work to solve your problem.
On the other hand, thinking about the future too much can cause you to push your business toward premature growth. Proliferating may sound beneficial, but it can ruin a business, especially when starting.
Growing your business when it’s not ready to advance can complicate its infrastructure. In turn, your business will produce more problems. You may end up hiring people to fix those problems and then have hired too many people to sustain your business in the long run.
StoryShot #3: Don’t Be a Workaholic
Many entrepreneurs become workaholics as they try to grow their businesses. They think they’ll solve more problems by working more often.
However, this is a logical fallacy. You create more problems by working more.
Many people who work too much keep working because it makes them feel good. They don’t end up solving problems. They like the feeling of working in general.
Some workaholics work so much because they feel like they have to make up for lack of intelligence. This phenomenon may explain why newbies are the ones who put in the most hours. They feel like they have something to prove.
These employees are trying to make up for little intelligence through pure force of will.
Older employees may turn to workaholism as it allows for opportunities to belittle others who aren’t working as much.
We should work hard when required and realize that hard work is not always needed. We will burn out if we work ourselves too hard. Then, our businesses will go nowhere.
Besides, it would be best if you let your customers miss you occasionally. Create the feeling that something is missing if you’re not there.
Customers are more likely to stay loyal if they feel you have something they can’t miss out on. Taking breaks now and then will make them wonder where you went and what will happen next will the business.
Keep everyone on their toes and take a break. It’s good for the business.
StoryShot #4: Interruption Is the Enemy of Productivity
When you’re working, keep the distractions to an absolute minimum. Interruption is the enemy of productivity.
We’re not bound to get much done if we think about things around us.
Put away the phone, turn off the television, and find a quiet place. We need to focus on deep work.
If we keep all of these distractions, we’re not likely to finish the things we need. Then, we’ll be scrambling and working more hours to try to make up for the lack of focus we had before.
Another distractor that people don’t take into consideration is meetings. Meetings seem to be one of the favorite communication methods of businesses everywhere.
Skip them if you can.
Any meetings that you do have should be short and solution-driven. Try to keep them to an hour at the most.
If it’s lasting longer than that, you aren’t getting much done.
Use a communication tool instead. We can use messaging platforms, team organizers, or other means of communication.
Like with meetings, keep communication simple and short. Don’t overcomplicate things.
We tend to overcomplicate things, especially when we care so much about them. Instead of making everything too complicated, we should keep it simple.
Good enough is okay. There’s nothing wrong with getting the job done and revisiting the topic for further discussion later.
We can’t get caught up in the why’s and how’s. It’s up to us to bring the solutions and keep the company moving.
The next time you’re feeling distracted, consider the amount of productivity you’re losing.
StoryShot #5: Appreciate the Things You Have
Every entrepreneur’s business begins as a startup. When we’re in this stage, we may think we don’t have enough.
However, being in this stage can be beneficial.
The constraints of the startup stage teach us to be creative. We have to make do with what we have.
We should focus on the basics during this stage of our business. To figure out the basics, we should ask ourselves, “Would my product still exist if I took this thing away?”
If the product doesn’t exist with the thing we’re thinking about, we need to give more attention to that thing. After all, our product depends on it.
Ignore the details that don’t take away from your product. These things don’t matter as you’re starting.
Practicing this minimal approach will help you learn how to focus on the necessities and appreciate what you have. Understanding what is good enough now will help you sustain your business in the long run.
We don’t have to settle for this kind of entrepreneurship forever. We can improve “good enough” to “great.” However, it’s hard to change “failure” to “success.”
Rework urges us to apply this minimalist approach to business problems, too. We shouldn’t try to tackle the entire problem all at once.
Instead, we should reduce the problem and work on what’s left. This technique helps entrepreneurs look at the core of their business.
If we’re creating a business core that we want to keep forever, our businesses are more likely to succeed.
StoryShot #6: Long Lists Don’t Get Done
Continuing with our talk about the necessities, we must remember that long lists don’t get done. Looking at a long to-do list is more intimidating than looking at a short to-do list.
If we’re constantly looking at a long to-do list, we’re likely too worried about getting things done. We often don’t get things done in the face of this worry.
For those of us with long to-do lists, we need to ask ourselves if there’s anything we can take off. Is there anything that you would cut out of the list if you could?
We’re continuing to focus on the necessities by taking these excess activities off our to-do lists.
When creating your to-do list, you should consider whether each item on the list is helpful. If so, list a reason or two why you must worry about today.
Ultimately, you want each task you complete to do something for your business. It may not be worth your time if it’s not adding value.
Rework recommends having two items on your to-do list:
- The thing you’re working on now
- The thing you need to do next
This shorter format makes it easier to focus on the now rather than the past or present (like we talked about before).
Having shorter to-do lists also gives you time to celebrate your victories.
We should all take the time to recognize our small wins along the way. Without taking the time to pause for them, we may get burnt out faster.
StoryShot #7: Get Enough Sleep
In Rework, Hansson and Fried place great emphasis on sleep. We’ve all heard how important getting good sleep is, and these gurus aren’t going to tell you any different.
Sleep deprivation kills creativity and ends businesses. If you aren’t getting enough sleep every night, that needs to change tonight.
Do whatever you need to do to get the sleep you need.
Put your phone away from your bed. Turn off the lights earlier. Create an elaborate nighttime routine with all of your favorite things.
Sleep is too important to push off. Make your sleep time a non-negotiable.
Investing in a sleep tracker is the best way to track whether you’re getting enough sleep. Many people use smartwatches to get accurate data about their sleeping patterns.
By wearing your smart watch at night, you can learn all kinds of things about your sleep, including your heart rate, deep sleep, and quality sleep. Each metric can give you great insight into what you need to do to make your sleep better each night.
If you’re data-driven, reviewing these metrics may be helpful for you in improving your sleep. Based on our baseline metrics, we can make changes to our sleep routines.
Many of these tracking programs can give you specific feedback about your sleep habits. It may recommend that you go to sleep earlier, go to sleep later, start a bedtime routine, or complete some other task.
The better your sleep, the better your productivity and creativity during the day. Getting good sleep at night is worth missing a few hours during the day. After all, you may make up the time in productivity by getting better sleep.
StoryShot #8: Don’t Listen to Everything You Hear
As you’re developing and growing your business, you’ll likely gather some opinions about it. Others will share tips and tricks for making your business the best it can be.
When this happens, we feel tempted to take the advice and follow it. However, this may not be the best idea.
Rework tells us that we shouldn’t take everyone’s advice. Hansson and Fried tell us not to write the advice down or worry about it.
You’re likely going to get the same advice multiple times. Plus, it would be best if you didn’t worry about implementing several different pieces of advice simultaneously.
We need to start at a small scale. Starting small can help us understand whether the idea is viable. It’s always better to start with 100 people rather than 10,000 people.
You need to consider something else when you’re starting something new: your customers. With each change you make, you should alert your customers.
Tweet, blog, post, or do whatever else you need to do to communicate with them. No matter what, you need to continue sharing information. If applicable, you should also teach your fan base about the changes and why you’re making them.
We may upset our fan base if we make changes without alerting them. Even small changes are worth communicating about.
There doesn’t need to be a fancy presentation. Posting a small announcement about trying a new policy is good enough.
As long as you’re trying to reach out to your audience, the communication is enough.
StoryShot #9: Fail Gloriously
Failing is a natural part of entrepreneurship. Without failure, we may not learn much about ourselves or our businesses.
You may not want to fail at anything, but it’s essential to cultivate knowledge and experience.
No one on this planet hasn’t failed at some point. Why should you be any different?
When we start on our entrepreneurial journies, we think everything has to go perfectly. We believe that we can’t make mistakes.
While that would be great in a perfect world, it will never be perfect.
No matter how much energy and effort you put into your business, it will never be perfect. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
We shouldn’t be upset at the prospect of failing. We should be excited to try again.
Failure doesn’t mark the end of a business. There are plenty of company failures that turned into successes. It’s all about how you approach the situation and pivot to a new direction.
Rework also teaches us that we should share our failures. If we’re willing to own up to our losses, our audience is more likely to trust us. This concept is especially true if we share what we’ve learned from the situation.
Communication is vital, whether you’re succeeding or not.
Sometimes, companies that are struggling will post the problem online. Their audience may come in to help them solve the issue. Their fan base may hold all the answers they need to be successful.
Don’t be afraid to own up to your shortcomings. We’re all human, and your business is run by humans, so it will not be perfect either.
StoryShot #10: Momentum Fuels Motivation
When starting your business, it’s your job to run as fast as possible. Rework tells us that this strategy allows us to learn more about our business and how it runs.
If we’re assessing our businesses from multiple angles, we’re more likely to understand the work that our employees do. Plus, it’ll make the hiring process more straightforward. If we’ve worked the job, we’ll understand what to look for.
However, you shouldn’t hire unless you need to.
Often, business owners hire unnecessarily because they think they need to expand. Yet, they don’t have the need for these extra individuals. They end up with a team that’s not doing the work they signed up for.
People may not be working full days or may be getting overcompensated for the work they can do. Without enough tasks to go around, your business is going to be paying people for existing on your staff.
Overhiring is a common problem with companies, especially new companies with new business owners. It’s not sustainable.
To prevent this, we need to hire only when we need to.
When do we know if we need to hire? Well, if we can’t run anymore without someone, we need to pass the ball off, right? That’s the time to hire.
Further, Rework tells us that we need to look at our candidates’ cover letters for language and tonal similarities. We shouldn’t be concerned with academic qualifications as long as the candidate meets other needs for the position.
Lastly, Rework tells us to create a culture of trust. We shouldn’t make overarching policies for our employees if one person does something questionable. Likewise, we shouldn’t place disclaimers on everything, because they insinuate that we don’t trust our staff.
Legalities are important, but they’re not worth compromising your staff. Consider placing privacy policies in contracts, not in the break room.
Loved These Key Takeaways? Pick Up Rework for Yourself!
Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried is a great handbook for any of us looking to achieve our entrepreneurial dreams. If you’ve been sitting on a business idea, now is the time to get your plans together.
These Rework key takeaways can help you get the most out of the book. From motivational points to strict rules from Hansson and Fried, there are plenty of things to learn.
But, you should read it for yourself. Pick up a copy of Rework today and make your dreams come true.